In Maine: IBEW Local 1837
16 Old Winthrop Road
Manchester, ME 04351
Phone: (207) 623-1030, Fax: (207) 621-8384
In New Hampshire:
680 Central Avenue, Suite 201
Dover, NH 03820
Phone: (603) 743-1652, Fax: (603) 743-1654

Maine Governor’s Veto of Consumer-Owned Utility Bill Sustained


The legislature convened on July 19 to
consider vetoes including LD 1708.

July 19, 2021 - The Maine House of Representatives failed to override the veto by Governor Janet Mills of a consumer-owned utility bill 68- 65, far short of the necessary 2/3 margin. That means that voters will not see a referendum question creating Pine Tree Power on the ballot this fall. If approved by voters, Pine Tree Power would have replaced Central Maine Power and Versant Power with a consumer-owned utility. The bill’s proponents pledged to collect enough signatures to place the question before voters in November 2022.

When a prior version of the legislation was first introduced in January 2019, IBEW 1837 was committed to participating in the process to ensure that employees and ratepayers' interests were at the forefront of any proposed legislation. After a careful and painstaking review of the final legislation by our legal counsel, the Union decided to come out against the bill. Of the utmost concern was the possible loss of private sector collective bargaining rights guaranteed under the National Labor Relations Act if the new utility is classified as a public employer.

“We’re pleased that Gov. Mills has decided to veto LD 1708, the Pine Tree Power bill, and that the Legislature has sustained her veto,” IBEW 1837 Business Manager Tony Sapienza said. “While we appreciate and recognize efforts made by lead sponsor Rep. Seth Berry to craft legislation that would be good for our members and Maine ratepayers, the change to a consumer-owned utility would bring with it tremendous risks and uncertainty. Although Maine’s investor-owned electric utilities are far from perfect, we’re committed to working with them to improve service for Maine’s ratepayers and to making those utilities better places to work for our members throughout the state. Therefore, we are opposed to replacing Central Maine Power and Versant Power with a consumer-owned utility.”

In order to place a referendum creating a consumer-owned utility on next year’s ballot, the number of valid signatures required would be 10 percent of the total votes cast for governor in the last gubernatorial election. That means that supporters would need to gather at least 63,067 signatures from registered voters in Maine, a difficult but not insurmountable task.

Both utilities – particularly Central Maine Power – have suffered in recent years before the court of public opinion. Central Maine Power has been criticized for their storm response and billing issues. CMP’s pursuit of the New England Clean Energy Connect project to bring in power from Hydro Quebec is deeply unpopular with some voters.

Union Members Played Key Role in NH "Right to Work" Battle


Hundreds of Union members turned out to line the streets outside
the NH Sportsplex in Bedford the morning of the final House vote
.

June 4, 2021 - In a tremendous victory for working people and their unions in the Granite State, the New Hampshire House of Representatives soundly defeated “Right to Work” legislation on Thursday,  June 3, by a vote of 199-175. That was followed by a 197-178 vote to indefinitely postpone the bill, effectively killing it until at least 2023. The morning of the vote, hundreds of Union members carrying “Vote No” signs lined the streets leading to the NH Sportsplex in Bedford where the session was held.

“This legislative victory was only possible because of the great work done by members of IBEW 1837 and other unions,” said IBEW Local 1837 Organizer and Business Representative Matt Beck. “They contacted their elected representatives to urge them to defeat Right-to-Work, a bill which proponents consider just a first step to eliminating unions altogether.”

The Right-to-Work fight garnered national attention from corporate interests and the Virginia-based National Right to Work Committee after Democrats lost control of the New Hampshire House and Senate last November. Gov. Chris Sununu had supported Right-to-Work in the past and indicated he would sign it if it reached his desk.

When Senate Bill 61, Right-to-Work was introduced, organizers went to work to identify pro-labor Republicans who could help defeat the bill in the Senate or House. After Senate Bill 61 narrowly passed the State Senate 13-11, the focus was squarely on the House and the virtual public hearing in the House Labor Committee that was held on Zoom.

Opponents testifying or signing-in opposed to Right-to-Work easily outnumbered those in favor. Prior to the hearing, it was announced that just over 200 people from New Hampshire had signed on in support of the bill on the NH General Court website while more than 1,700 had signed on in opposition to it, a margin of more than 8 to 1 against Right-to-Work.

“The only purpose of this bill is to increase corporate power at the expense of working people,” IBEW Local 1837 Business Manager Tony Sapienza testified during the hearing. “Obviously, wages and benefits will erode faster or grow slower if corporations are empowered and collective bargaining rights are eroded.”

In addition to workers and their unions, other opponents of the bill testifying included faith leaders, economists, small business owners and larger companies that rely on union apprenticeship programs for a reliable source of skilled workers.

One of the last people to testify against the bill at the House hearing was Pat Moran, a Troubleshooter for Eversource NH and a Chief Steward for IBEW Local 1837.

“I feel strongly that Senate Bill 61, the so-called Right to Work bill does not belong in New Hampshire. I believe this is a means to break unions,” Brother Moran said. “The name itself is a lie. Right to Work doesn’t give anyone any rights or any work. It is meant to hurt unions financially in the hope that they will wither and die.”

After the Republican majority on the House Labor Committee voted the bill out “Ought to Pass,” members of IBEW 1837 participated in virtual meetings with members of the House to talk about the importance of their union in helping to keep them safe on the job and ensuring their good pay and benefits. They also called and emailed their State Reps to ask them to support working families by opposing Right-to-Work.

IBEW 1837 Delegates to 40th Int'l Convention Selected



May 15, 2021 - The following members of IBEW Local #1837 have been nominated and selected to serve as delegates to the International Brotherhood of Electrical Worker's 40th International Convention in Chicago:  IBEW 1837 Business Manager Tony Sapienza, IBEW 1837 President Michelle Crocker, IBEW 1837 Organizer/Business Representative Matt Beck, IBEW 1837 Vice President Bob Mc Neff, Kitty Kilroy, and Bill Tarallo. Since the number of nominees was equal to the number of delegates for our Local, there will not be an election held for those seats.

The 40th International Convention was originally scheduled for late August - early September of this year but has been postponed until May 9 - 13, 2022. Delegates — more than 1,900 of them — will still meet in Chicago and represent 725,000 members and retirees from more than 900 locals. 

IBEW 1837 Members at CMP Ratify New 4-Year Contract

 

 

Turnout was high throughout the state for the contract vote. Ballots were tallied at the Manchester, Maine office of IBEW 1837.

May 5, 2021 - IBEW members working at Central Maine Power voted to approve a new collective bargaining agreement with guaranteed wage increases and annual bonus payments, and without significant concessions of any kind. Voting took place at 15 different locations throughout the state on Wednesday, May 5th. The contract takes effect immediately and runs through April 30, 2025.

“The ratification of the new 4-year contract agreement with Central Maine Power is a significant step in the right direction for our members and for Maine’s largest electric utility,” said IBEW 1837 Business Manager Tony Sapienza. “After months of negotiations we were able to come to an agreement that the negotiating committee and the Union leadership could recommend to our members. Our members are proud of the important work they do serving CMP’s many thousands of customers and this agreement demonstrates that the company recognizes the value of our commitment to them.”

The Union and the Company met a total of 15 times in March and April at CMP’s General Office in Augusta with both sides limiting the number of people at the bargaining table as a COVID-related precaution. The Union side brought in a limited number of other members beyond the core negotiating committee for one or two days at a time to gain the benefit of their specific knowledge and experience.

Union negotiators sought wage adjustments across the board and presented detailed data when and where it was available to bolster their arguments. Ultimately, all job classifications received at least a single 2% wage adjustment prior to the general wage increases of 3% per year in each of the four years. Some job classifications, including First Class Lineworkers, received larger wage adjustments as the data conclusively proved they were underpaid and the Company found it increasingly difficult to attract and retain people in those positions.

Workers Speak Out Against NH "Right to Work" Bill


The Zoom hearing had some 100 witnesses and took
more than six hours to complete.

March 25, 2021 - At a hearing of the New Hampshire House Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitative Services Committee, the overwhelming majority of people testified in opposition to the so-called “Right to Work” bill. Elected union leaders were joined by rank-and-file union members in urging committee members to vote “Inexpedient to Legislate” on the union-busting bill, SB 61. Similar bills have been considered dozens of times in the State Legislature and have always failed to become law.

“The only purpose of this bill is to increase corporate power at the expense of working people,” IBEW Local #1837 Business Manager Tony Sapienza said. “Obviously, wages and benefits will erode faster or grow slower if corporations are empowered and collective bargaining rights are eroded.”

In addition to workers and their unions, other opponents of the bill included faith leaders, economists, small business owners and larger companies that rely on union apprenticeship programs for a reliable source of skilled workers.

Corporate lobby groups such as NH BIA were joined by the Virginia-based National Right to Work Committee in support of the bill. All testimony was given on Zoom at the virtual hearing.

Prior to the hearing, it was announced that just over 200 people from New Hampshire had signed on in support of the bill on the NH General Court website while more than 1,700 had signed on in opposition to it, a margin of more than 8 to 1 against Right to Work.

One of the last people to testify against the bill was Pat Moran, a Troubleshooter for Eversource NH and a Chief Steward for IBEW Local 1837.

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